Table of contents:
- When to sow cacti
- Where to get cactus seeds
- How to get seeds from your cacti
- How to germinate cactus seeds
- Care of crops of cacti
This is the most troublesome and most fun way of breeding cacti. It is from the seeds that the strongest and most beautiful specimens grow.
When to sow cacti
Theoretically, you can sow cacti all year round, it all depends on what methods and how fully you will be able to provide the seedlings with the necessary conditions - light and warmth. Therefore, from a technical point of view, it is most convenient to sow cacti at the end of winter, early spring: the days increase, there is more sun, the heating is still on, which means that the room is warm and you can use the batteries to heat the crops.
Where to get cactus seeds
1. In an ordinary flower shop, mixtures of seeds of various types of cacti are sold, for example, from the Gavrish company "Fidget cactus". Suitable for novice cactusists, because it is cheap and cheerful - the mixture contains the most unpretentious species (mammillaria, rebutia, echinocactus, parodies).
2. Online stores sell seeds in mixes and different types separately. The appearance of the seeds is usually impossible to determine their authenticity or freshness. And since many suppliers have rather high prices for seeds, you need to purchase them only in online stores with an impeccable reputation (read reviews about stores on the forum). When ordering, pay attention to the minimum order amount (if you cooperate with friends, you can save on delivery).
3. Get the seeds yourself if you already have the same species of blooming cacti.
How to get seeds from your cacti
To carry out cross-pollination, you need to have two cacti that are unrelated to each other, i.e. those that were themselves grown from cuttings or from seeds of different plants. The flowers from which the pollen will come from should be fully blooming, the pollen should be very easy to separate so that it can be collected on a cotton ball or brush. The pollen from one flowering cactus is transferred to the flower of another, as a result, a berry forms in place of the flower after a while.
To obtain quality seeds, the berry must ripen. Then they carefully break it and take out the seeds, which can be stored in a paper bag, not forgetting to sign the name of the cactus and the date of receipt of the seeds.
How to germinate cactus seeds
Conditions for germination of cactus seeds
For the successful germination of seeds of many cactus species, a daytime temperature of about + 26 ° -30 ° C is needed, at night it is 7-10 ° C lower. Moderate soil moisture (not damp, not dry, but slightly damp) and high air humidity.
But as soon as the seeds germinate, there is an urgent need for the third and main growth factor - lighting. And the lighting should be very good!
Growth stimulants, which have proven themselves very well in rooting cuttings and germinating seeds of other indoor plants, are rarely used for cacti, since their effect on these plants has not been fully studied. If you want to try such a remedy, then it is better to apply it to one cactus, and not to the entire collection.
What and where to sow seeds
For germinating and growing seeds, it is better to use a special greenhouse, which can be purchased in the store or made on your own. But if there is no opportunity to make or buy a greenhouse, then the seeds are simply sown in a bowl.
At the bottom of the bowl (wide tray, low box), drainage is poured, about 7-10 mm high. Then a layer of loose leafy earth about 2 cm high and a layer of well-washed river sand, about 1.5-2 cm high. Previously, the drainage is poured over with boiling water, and the soil and sand are fried in the oven or warmed up in the microwave for disinfection. Sand for sowing is only suitable for river sand, not from a sandbox and must be sifted from dust. It is desirable that the particle size is 1-3 mm. Unwashed and / or very fine sand, after wetting, cakes, sticks together and forms a dense crust. This does not allow the seedling rootlets to breathe, they quickly die.
Before sowing, cactus seeds must be disinfected. To do this, the easiest way is to use 3% hydrogen peroxide; it is enough to soak the seeds for 5-10 minutes.
Seeds are sown at the recommended depth for the particular species. Seeds up to 3 mm in size, especially small, dusty ones are not sprinkled with sand, they are sown directly on the surface. Larger seeds can be sown in grooves no more than 3 mm deep. You have to sow cacti either manually, choosing each seed separately, or sprinkle very small seeds on the surface of the sand with a pinch. It is advisable to sow seeds with a pinch, of which there are a lot and during germination it is not a pity to thin out the seedlings. If seeds are rare or limited, plant each one separately.
Here it is necessary to warn: the seeds of most cacti are small, if they fall, they are irretrievably lost. Therefore, open the seeds that came in the parcel carefully, over a table covered with white paper and, trying not to scatter.
By the way, the most experienced cactusists of our forum have already shared their secrets of growing cacti from seeds.
Care of crops of cacti
The seeds have been sown, now they need to be sprayed with a spray bottle. It must be adjusted so that no water jet is formed, but only the smallest droplets. When moistened from a sprayer, the seeds naturally sink into the sand and no soil erosion occurs.
In the literature, there are often recommendations to water crops or seedlings by immersing a bowl in water, this recommendation is usually reprinted from old books published at a time when spray guns for flowers were not yet on the shelves of flower shops, and watering from a watering can threatened to wash away all the works and hope. Therefore, forget about regular watering - it is best to spray cactus plants once or twice a day.
A dish or box with crops must be covered with glass or cling film so that the air humidity remains high enough. Airing at least twice a day. Regular airing is a prerequisite for normal germination and growth of seedlings. During ventilation, the condensation must be removed from the film or glass. The fact is that humidity is needed high, but not 100%, and condensation can lead to a short circuit if the lamp is inside the greenhouse.
By the way, at high humidity, which is created in a greenhouse or a bowl covered with glass, blue-green algae inevitably appear. It looks like greening the sand or the walls of the bowl. By themselves, blue-green algae are not harmful, but they can form a dense crust on the surface of the substrate, blocking oxygen, and are simply annoying. To reduce the formation of greenery (it is almost impossible to get rid of it completely), systematic ventilation is needed. You can loosen sand in the aisles of crops. If there is a lot of greenery, it is easier to cut the cacti into fresh soil.
The time it takes to germinate depends on the type of cactus. Some need several days, others will germinate for a month or even several months. Germination time also depends on the shelf life of the seeds. Fresh seeds usually germinate faster than seeds that have been stored for more than a year. After the seeds sprout, they are seedlings with two well-defined cotyledons, characteristic of all cacti, so it is very difficult to immediately determine which cactus it is from the seedlings.
If you know that the seeds should already sprout, but this does not happen, the seeds are strong and healthy in appearance, then you can use the method that many cactusists practice. The seed pot is moved to a cooler place and is not watered until the soil is dry. After two weeks or more, the seeds are again taken to a warm place and watered. This procedure stimulates seed germination. In some cases, you should forget about seeds in a bowl for six months or a year, put them in a dry place with a moderate temperature. Try again next spring. Some of the seeds can sprout, however, less vigorous plants will grow from this batch.
To grow cacti from seeds, bottom heating (soil heating) is needed; for germination, most require a temperature of about 30 ° C. The easiest way is to put a bowl of seeds on a heating pad. It is also possible on a battery if sowing is carried out during the heating season. But as soon as the seeds germinate, install lighting over them. There is another option - a thermal mat for a terrarium, or a thermal cord. There are thermal cords for all terrarium terrariums, 3 or more meters long. This is convenient if the crop plantations are large. The only note: it is worthwhile to play it safe and regularly check the soil temperature with a thermometer.
Lighting of cactus seedlings is a very important point. Without exception, all seedlings are very demanding on light. If it is not enough, babies stretch out, wither, get sick, die. Even on the southern windowsill, in most cases, there is not enough light for the seedlings. Think ahead and stock up on lamps or fixtures. They need to be placed so that the distance from the crops to the fluorescent lamp (lamps) is no more than 10 cm. It is better to use tube lamps - with them the lighting is more uniform. Lighting duration 8-12 hours.
For the first two years, young seedlings are grown in normal room conditions, if necessary, they are supplemented, ventilated, displayed on a balcony or on a veranda (protected from the wind and the scorching sun). But in the third year of life, cactus cubs must have a dormant period in winter with a cool temperature, so that they successfully bloom in summer. See article Cacti - brief requirements for soil, temperature, lighting
Possible difficulties with crops
Sometimes the seedling that appears is lying on its side, and the young roots stick out to the side. You need a thin stick, you can make a hole under the roots with a pencil, and raise the seedling so that the roots are in this hole, you don't need to press down with earth, it will fix itself in the soil or sand.
The seedling has appeared, but the stuck seed shell does not want to separate from the sprout in any way - this happens quite often - it is necessary to carefully remove the remnants of the shell, if it holds too tightly, then perhaps the seedling will have to be removed from the soil in order to remove the shell.
One of the seedlings rotted - urgently check all the remaining seedlings, and remove the deceased together with a lump of earth or sand that surrounded it. If another seedling dies, then all the remaining seedlings must be immediately dived into the new disinfected soil.
Picking cactus seedlings
The question of when to make the first pick is rather controversial among cactusists. Some advise to dive after the appearance of the first thorns, others determine the time - in a year or two. The fact is that cactus seedlings grow in different ways - some species are very slow, others by leaps and bounds. In addition, the growth rate depends on the conditions - those grown in a greenhouse in a warm place, with good light and high air humidity, grow much faster than without heating and supplementary lighting. Well, the skill of hands (delicate work) is also an important factor. Babies are easily injured, more likely to lose part of the crops. Therefore, sometimes it is more correct to endure the slow maturation, but keep the crops intact.
I follow the advice of experienced cactus practitioners, diving my seedlings for the first time after something that looks like thorns or even hairs appears between the cotyledons. Frequent picks, on average after one and a half to two months, significantly accelerate the growth of cactus. Thus, I dived my cacti 6 times in the first year of life, and the next year they were already almost adult plants, and no longer a dive was carried out, but rather transshipment into fresh soil in spring and mid-summer. But sometimes, due to the violent growth of blue-green algae, it was necessary to dive unplanned.
Rules for picking cactus seedlings
- You can not tear out seedlings from the soil by the crown. They are neatly undermined, but it is better to hold the seedling with your fingers, and not with metal tweezers. You can use tweezers if you put rubber dropper tubes on the ends. Seedlings must be handled with extreme caution, each, even a microscopic wound, can be fatal for him.
- Before the dive, the soil is moistened and depressions are made in it. The removed seedling is transferred to a new place along with a lump of soil. The soil is not watered, but only sprayed. The dish is covered with glass and is in the same conditions, i.e. on heating and light, as before.
- If you want to remove the seedlings from heating, then this should be done no earlier than two weeks after the pick.
Vegetative propagation of cacti